Wessel: Wolves better off without Kevin Love? That notion is laughable
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Some Minnesota Timnberwolves fans might be regretting what they wished for.
The team announced before Saturday's 102-97 loss to the Portland Trailblazers that Kevin Love re-broke his hand and will be out indefinitely.
There was a ground swell on social media after the Wolves rallied to the Nuggets that the team was better off without Love. That the team played with more chemistry and was much improved on the defensive end.
Love has struggled, there is no question, and he is the first to admit it. His hand never healed properly the first time and his shot hasn't been falling. The injury led to his conditioning suffering and his transition defense to take a hit. His inflammatory comments about the front office didn't help his case either. Frustration among fans is definitely justified, if not encouraged.
But sometimes justifiable frustration leads to irrational thinking. And to think the franchise, a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs in eight years, is better off shipping out Love for what would be pennies on the dollar is simply that, irrational. No GM will give you full value, that isn't how the league works. You might get some nice assets, but this is a superstar league, not a nice asset league.
Yes, the Wolves played some inspiring basketball to beat Dallas on Wednesday and to rally from 22 down Saturday. Yes, the Wolves have looked good in stretches this season without Love. The locker room -- unlike the last few years -- is filled with professionals who aren't going to quit or lay down no matter who is out. But that simply isn't realistic to think that it is sustainable for any longer than a half or a few game stretch.
Remember, this franchise has been in the position of -- albeit under different circumstances -- shipping out marquee players before and I don't exactly remember that working out too well for them. In fact, it set them back even further both times, giving the wheel of perpetual rebuilding another spin each time. It would be the same case here.
This is temporary for Love. The NBA is filled with adversity. And Love certainly is going through some right now mentally and physically. But he will turn it around. He is a career 17.3 point and 12.2 rebounder that shoots .352 from distance. Players like that don't grow on trees.
The Wolves have had 25 first round draft picks in their history. Of those 25, Garnett and Love have turned into players you can build a franchise around, three if you are willing to give a half-point each to Stephon Marbury and Ricky Rubio. And now people want to cast Love aside and start over with Rubio and the supporting because of some regretful comments and some sloppy transition defense? Come on.
Love is the team's franchise player. His teammates know it, and say it routinely. J.J. Barea laughed when asked if the team was better off without Love. Coach Rick Adelman agreed and challenged anybody who has that contention to try coaching without Love.
It makes for good banter, and that is what sports are about. But any thought that the Wolves are better off without Love -- whether because he is injured or shipped out -- is laughable. And now, unfortunately for the Wolves, we'll see that play out for the next month or so.